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POV’s Neurotypical, the World Through the Eyes of the Autistic

POV’s ‘Neurotypical’ Looks at the World Through the Eyes of the Autistic, Monday, July 29, 2013 on PBS
New Film Reverses the Mirrors of Perception to Reveal Autism Spectrum—And a Lot of Questions About What Constitutes “Normal”
Neurotypical is an unprecedented exploration of autism from the point of view of autistic people themselves. Four-year-old Violet, teenaged Nicholas and adult Paula occupy different positions on the autism spectrum, but they are all at pivotal moments in their lives. How they and the people around them work out their perceptual and behavioral differences becomes a remarkable reflection of the “neurotypical” world—the world of the non-autistic—revealing inventive adaptations on each side and an emerging critique of both what it means to be normal and what it means to be human.Adam Larsen’s Neurotypical has its national broadcast premiere on Monday, July 29, 2013, at10 p.m. (check local listings), as part of the 26th season of the award-winning PBS series POV (Point of View). The film streams on POV’s website,, from July 30-Aug. 29.

Neurotypical, filmed predominately in North Carolina and Virginia, introduces viewers to:

  • Violet, age 4, who is unable to communicate her desires clearly. When she’s feeling good, her energy is limitless. Her parents look for ways to make her life happy and fulfilling. But they wrestle with questions most parents never have to ask: Will the label of autism limit their daughter’s potential? Should they begin going down the road of medicating her or not?
  • Nicholas, age 14, who might seem the typical American teen, complete with skateboard, guitar and video games. But he struggles with feelings of alienation that go beyond the usual teenage angst.
  • Adult Paula, who was diagnosed with autism as an adult after she read an article on the subject. Enlightened by this self-awareness, she begins to assess her life through a new lens and finds a community of new friends.
  • Middle-aged autism advocate Wolf, who declares, “I look at neurotypical life and I’m sorry, I really don’t want to be one of you.” He’s perfectly happy without physical intimacy because of his extreme sensitivity to touch.
  • Maddi, a senior in high school who wants a relationship. “Just because Temple Grandin doesn’t do it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen,” she says, referring to perhaps the most famous individual with autism.
  • Thirty-something John, who reveals two simple ways he’s learned to follow conversations: Say someone’s name as often as possible, because “a person’s own name is their favorite word in the whole wide world,” and repeat the last three or four words of whatever the person says. “It works like magic.”
These stories raise the film’s central questions. Just what is “normal” for the human mind? Should the many and varied aspects of autism be considered signs of dysfunction or insights into a broader understanding of what it is to be human? Neurotypical is a revelatory portrait of a not-uncommon and little-understood state of being that questions the fundamentals of human perception.“Neurotypical originated in the shared experiences of my family and the autistic community in western North Carolina,” says filmmaker Adam Larsen. “I began to feel a growing rebellion against what I saw as society’s double standard—either a pervasive need to make people into a rendition of something ‘normal,’ or a tendency to sensationalize the extremes of autism. MakingNeurotypical provided a wonderful opportunity to explore more fully the richness of humanity and to bring the concept of neurodiversity into the mainstream.”

About Adam Larsen, Director/Cinematographer/Editor
Adam Larsen is an artist, projection designer and filmmaker. He has designed video projections for nearly 100 stage productions in the United States and abroad. As a cinematographer, he has shot numerous television pilots (from cooking shows to programs on extreme sports), independent films and commercials. He also produced, shot and edited two short films for TEACCH, North Carolina’s state autism program, and two films for the Organization for Autism Research (OAR). Larsen holds a bachelor of fine arts degree in cinematography from the North Carolina School of the Arts. Neurotypical is his first documentary.

About POV
Produced by American Documentary, Inc. and beginning its 26th season on PBS in 2013, the award-winning POV is the longest-running showcase on American television to feature the work of today’s best independent documentary filmmakers. POV has brought more than 365 acclaimed documentaries to millions nationwide. POV films have won every major film and broadcasting award, including 32 Emmys, 15 George Foster Peabody Awards, 10 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards, three Academy Awards® and the Prix Italia. In 2012, POV achieved a new milestone, winning five News & Documentary Emmy® Awards. Since 1988, POV has pioneered the art of presentation and outreach using independent nonfiction media to build new communities in conversation about today’s most pressing social issues. Visit

POV has the honor of receiving a 2013 MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions. Major funding for POV is provided by PBS, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, the desJardins/Blachman Fund and public television viewers. Funding for POV’s Diverse Voices Project is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Special support provided by The Fledgling Fund and the Lucius and Eva Eastman Fund. POV is presented by a consortium of public television stations, including KQED San Francisco, WGBH Boston and THIRTEEN in association with WNET.ORG.

POV Communications: 212-989-7425. Emergency contact: 206-790-8697
Cathy Fisher, [email protected]; Amanda Nguyen, [email protected]
POV online pressroom:

Tracy Scott is a self-professed baking addict and foodie who lives in Chesterfield County with her husband and two kids. She managed the calendar and handled social media for RFM before moving on to the corporate world.

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